YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

It was on this date back in 1872 that President Grant signed the bill creating Yellowstone National Park.

John Colter, the famous mountain man, was the first Anglo to travel through the area.  In 1807, he returned with fantastic stories of steaming geysers and bubbling cauldrons.  People accused the mountain man of telling tall tales and dubbed the area “Colter’s Hell.”

The key to Yellowstone becoming a national park was the 1871 exploration under the direction of the government geologist Ferdinand Hayden.  Hayden brought along photographer William Jackson and artist Thomas Moran to make a visual record of the expedition.  Their images provided the first proof of Yellowstone’s wonders and caught the attention of Congress.

Early in 1872, Congress moved to set aside 1,221,773 acres of public land straddling the future states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho as America’s first national park.

For a nation bent on settling and exploiting the West, the creation of Yellowstone was surprising.  Many congressmen gave it their support simply because they believed the rugged and isolated region was of little economic value.

TIME ZONES

Today is the 29th of February.  As we all know, the 29th comes about once every four years.  It’s something that came about back during the Roman era, or maybe even before.

 However, there is something related to time that began in the era of the Old West.  That’s time zones.  Do you know how they came about?  Well, click on this video and you will.

RIDING FOR THE BRAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I live in the mountains of Northeastern Arizona at 6,500 feet.  This morning when I got up, the wind was blowing in mighty gusts; snow was whirling around; and the temperature was in the 20’s.

 Unfortunately, I had to take our American Border Collie dog Jake for his morning constitution.

 As I walked in the blistery weather I thought about what it would have been like to be an 1800’s cowboy working a winter line shack.  The cabin would have been heated by a small stove that was also used for cooking.  The wind would be howling through all the cracks in the walls and roof.  The temperature inside would be just a bit warmer than outside.

 The ice in the water bucket would have to be thawed out before coffee could be made.  And then you would have to go out and check on the cattle.

 Can you imagine the character it would take to leave that cabin when no one would know if you didn’t?  That’s called “Riding for the Brand.”

PAT GARRETT’S DEATH

It’s interesting how things have changed over the years.  Each week I send a free story about an event that happened during this time in the Old West.  This week’s story is about Sheriff Pat Garrett and how he died.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the circumstances, he was shot in the back while taking a “whizz”.  That’s right, a whizz.  I would say pee, but we want to keep this clean.

The man who confessed and was tried for doing it was Wayne Brazil.  What did he plead?  Self defense.  And he was declared not guilty.

 Don’t try this today folks.

 Incidentally, you can sign up for This Week in the Old West by going to: http://chronicleoftheoldwest.com/this_week_in_the_old_west-signup-new.shtml

 

HIRAM RHOADES REVELS

On this date back in 1870 Hiram Rhoades Revels, a Republican from Natchez, Mississippi, was sworn into the U.S. Senate, becoming the first Black ever to sit in Congress.

 During the Civil War, Revels, a college-educated minister, helped form Black army regiments for the Union cause, started a school for freed men, and served as a chaplain for the Union Army.  Revels remained in the former Confederate state after the war and entered into Reconstruction-era Southern politics.

 It’s interesting to note that the Senate seat Revels held was once held by Jefferson David, the former president of the Confederacy.

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